City firefighter fighting to keep second job as state representative

Created: 01/27/2014 5:52 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Tuesday promises to be a big day in court for an Albuquerque firefighter who is also a member of the state legislature.

Emily Kane is a captain in the Albuquerque Fire Department. She is also a member of the state House of Representatives. But city government leaders think it’s against the law for her to do both jobs. On Tuesday the state Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear the case.

Kane is a 20 year veteran of the fire department. Last month she commanded a ladder truck and the first engine on the scene at the big fire in downtown Albuquerque that destroyed the National Flamenco Institute and threatened to burn down a whole city block. In 2012 Kane, a Democrat, was elected to the state House with the administration of Mayor Richard Berry, a Republican, fighting her all the way, arguing that city workers are banned from holding elective office.

In July of 2012 Judge Beatrice Brickhouse declared the city law unconstitutional and the city immediately filed an appeal.

“I’m trying to be very philosophical about it,” Kane said Monday. “I figure it’s what they believe they need to do to settle the issue. I’m sad that they’ve chosen to go this far, but nonetheless we’re perfectly okay with letting the courts make that decision.”

Kane routinely trades shifts with other firefighters or takes a leave of absence to perform her legislative duties. New Mexico lawmakers are not paid, but do receive a per diem allowance for committee hearings and legislative sessions. There are other public employees in the legislature, including several teachers and a couple of school administrators. Emily Kane is the only one who is a city of Albuquerque employee.

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